Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella

Seiichi’s life is slowly starting to knit itself back together after the loss of his beloved parents. As an only child with no family to support him, it’s a constant struggle to maintain his grades while working to keep a roof over his head and still somehow managing to pay for prestigious Tokyo University. Racing from one class to the next, Sei finds himself — quite literally — bumping into the most stunning man he’s ever seen, a man whose jade green eyes and mixed ancestry make his beauty even more exotic. Embarrassed and flustered, Sei ends up making a fool of himself.

The day only gets worse when he arrives home to find himself faced with eviction. If it weren’t for his best friend’s bad luck in injuring his leg, Sei would most likely end up on the street. Yukio is supposed to be helping his brother, the famous director Kei Karasawa, while he and his studio are shooting a movie in town. Kei needs someone to keep the apartment clean, cook meals, and run errands, and with Yu-chan’s leg busted, he won’t be going anywhere for a week or more. The position comes with room and board and the chance to meet an international cast, as well as the chance to help out his best (and only) friend. Drowning in the chaos of his falling-apart life, Sei grabs the offered life preserver with both hands and accepts.

While reporting for his first day on duty, Sei comes face-to-face with the green eyed man of his very erotic dreams: Kei Karasawa, his best friend’s brother and his new boss. Fortunately, Kei isn’t the cold, haughty, and angry man Sei had first feared. Instead, he’s patient and kind and absolutely gorgeous. Sei soon finds himself lost in illicit fantasies and a crush so giant it’s a wonder no one else can see it. He’s pretty sure he’s kept his secret a secret, until one night when Kei, Scarlet, and the others return home from a club quite drunk. Sei offers to help Kei, meaning only to put the other man to bed, but ends up being kissed, being touched, and being worshiped by the man of his dreams.

One stolen night, one blissful moment of passion in which Sei surrenders his unneeded and unwanted virginity to the man who has slowly stolen his heart. But, when morning comes and the bed beside him is empty Sei has to wonder… was it real? Was it anything more than a drunken night of passion fo Kei, even when it meant everything to him?

If you’re familiar with yaoi manga or novels, you’ll recognize the characters in this story. The handsome, dominant (as well as wealthy and upper-class) Kei and the shy, innocent (but not frigid) young man with his delicate, almost feminine manners. Yaoi traditionally has submissive, younger partners with the older man being, at times, cruel and depraved. While this story has elements of it — and enough shirtless scenes to make any manga reader’s heart happy — there is no cruelty in Kei. Yes, Sei is a bit of a wide-eyed, long-haired innocent, but he’s a charming dreamer who manages to make the reader empathize with him and his infatuation.

Sei was the only child of his parents and much doted on. Their loss took everything away from him. No more laughter, no more safety, no more coming home to find someone waiting for him. It hasn’t been long since their passing and their graves are several hours away from school, which means Sei doesn’t have much of a chance to visit them. He’s still searching for closure, even as he’s trying to move forward with school. He loves languages, which comes in useful with the multi-cultural cast of the movie. He can speak English with Scarlet, French with Jean-Marc, and Korean with Jung.

He learns quickly, works with a good heart, and even when the moment comes where Yu discovers that his brother and his best friend — neither of whom he knew were gay — have become lovers, holds no anger or hurt in his heart for Yu’s reaction. He knows the surprise has more to do with Yu’s anger, and there is never a moment where he holds any of it against his best friend. Nor does he get angry at Kei. He enters into the relationship with open eyes and a willingness to love and be loved, even if it means risking being hurt. Sei is braver than he gives himself credit for, a fact which, fortunately, both Kei and Yu are aware of.

Kei has many of the standard seme traits, taking pleasure in dominating his lover in the bedroom — but not in causing pain. He prefers mirrors and obedience, and the occasional bit of silken lingerie. He’s gentle with Sei, and — as we learn — has had an interest in him since he saw Sei and his brother dressed up as maids for a school event. Sei was 16 at the time and so Kei, knowing himself interested, decided to return to the States (Kei is half American, on his mother’s side) to give the younger man time to mature. As he tells Sei, he was going to wait until Sei was 20 before making his move — provided neither Kei nor Sei had found anyone at the time.

He’s solicitous, charming, and, while there is a hint of that predatory edge that yaoi seme’s often have, it’s only a hint. When Kei finds Sei sobbing (having been left alone one night while the cast was working) over the picture of his parents, Kei immediately gives comfort. When Sei starts talking about how it was his fault, the “if I’d been there” train of self-recrimination, Kei doesn’t try to either humor it or argue it. Instead, he simply tells Sei that he doesn’t think his parents would want him to be unhappy. It’s a sweet scene of honest caring, just as when, in what could be an awkward morning after, Kei makes certain Sei knows that he is wanted with a kiss.

This is a light, sweet love story with highly erotic scenes and all the tropes I love from yaoi mangas with none of the problems. (I have to say, I was amused by the many, many different times and manners the author managed to get Kei’s shirt off). The writing is tight, the characterization of Sei is poignant, and Sei himself is an honestly charming young man. Even if you’re not familiar with the genre and its tropes, you’ll still be able to enjoy this lovely little story. I highly recommend it and look forward to reading more from this author.

elizabeth sig